The Strength to Endure
By Pastor Paula Lawhead
Sometimes life will throw things our way that we just cannot understand. Anyone else feeling like the past two weeks fall into this category? I have to imagine again what it meant for Abram and Sarai to “go to a place that God would show them.” Surely, they did not understand what that could mean for them in the long run, but trusted that God would provide for them along the way. Likewise, I suspect Joseph could not imagine what life would bring when he was first thrown into the pit by his brothers, but his faith did not waiver—even in the face of adversity and the unknown.
It is important to look back at stories of the faithful who trusted God’s word of promise over the real-life hardships they endured. This is how we learn what it might look like to walk in faith today. Looking now at the state of our world facing a global pandemic, it is even more fitting to go back to these stories of faith to see how God follows through in faithfulness.
Today is the Day of the Annunciation, the day we celebrate Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would bear a son and name him Jesus.* Now this certainly counts as a strange and hard to understand circumstance in a person’s life. What would we have done with this unbelievable truth? Mary’s whole life had just been turned upside down—instantly turned in a new direction—and we see her calmly state, “Here I am, the servant of my God. Let it be as you have said.” I don’t think I would have been so calm and collected. I’m not even that calm and collected when someone changes plans for dinner at the last minute.
How could she be in such a state of faith? Well, she had just been given a promise. “You are favored and the Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28-30) This Mary, like all the other faithful ones we read about in Scripture, is not somehow a better person or given more from God. For the most faithful to be called such, it is simply because their hearts have grasped onto the truth that God is a faithful keeper of promises. They trust that if they have received a word from God, they can trust it whole-heartedly because God does not disappoint—even when life seemingly does.
Through the ages, God’s loving heart and gracious hand have been supporting God’s people. It is this One God who created the heavens and the earth; guided Abraham and Sarah; protected Joseph; chose David; strengthened Mary; and claimed you and me to be part of God’s family. You and I have also been promised that even when life is unpredictable and challenging, we can trust that God is with us, still guiding, strengthening, protecting and claiming us as beloved.
Look now through the darkness and see the light that is to come. Or better, know that this light has already come and is bringing life to you even now. You will have the strength to endure these current times and you will celebrate the new life that is to come. Hold fast; for the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. We are loved by a God of resurrection!
*We celebrate the Annunciation on March 25 because it is nine months until Christmas. 😉
For further reading: Isaiah 42:1-9, 16